July 10, 2024

Photo Credit: Courtesy of UCLA Health

(LOS ANGELES, CA – 7/10/2024) – The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) filed a federal civil rights complaint on July 5 with the U.S. Department of Education against the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) for allegedly violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  

CAIR-LA has called for an investigation into DGSOM’s treatment of its client, a Muslim Palestinian-American medical student, who experienced multiple incidents of discrimination based on race, national origin, and religion during a pediatrics clerkship at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in the fall of 2023.  

The complaint alleged discrimination by the student’s superiors and clerkship co-chairs including derogatory and racist comments, discriminatory conduct, and an attempt to prohibit the student from performing his religious obligations. The complaint also alleged that after reporting the mistreatment, the student faced punitive and retaliatory measures, including deliberate negative evaluations and a failing grade in his pediatrics clerkship.  

In a statement, CAIR-LA Managing Attorney Dina Chehata, Esq. said: 

“We are extremely concerned by our client’s experience at UCLA, especially given that anti-Palestinian rhetoric has been escalating on campus for months. We have seen Palestinian advocacy discouraged and silenced and Palestinian students physically attacked on campus with virtually no accountability. For our client to be discriminated against because of his protected characteristics is unacceptable, and the punitive actions leveled against him need to be immediately investigated and rectified. 

“Moreover, the actions of his supervisors and co-chairs raise serious ethical concerns and cause us to question whether diverse patients at UCLA’s Medical Center will be treated with fairness and equality regardless of faith, ethnicity, race, or national origin. It is imperative that the staff who engaged in creating a hostile environment are held accountable for their behavior.”  

In the complaint against DGSOM, CAIR-LA urged the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to: 

  1. Open a full investigation into the potential Title VI violations committed against CAIR-LA’s client.  
  2. Ensure proper disciplinary action is taken against the UCLA Medical Center supervisors and co-chairs.  
  3. Implement proper training focusing on medical ethics, particularly when dealing with patients from varied backgrounds, religions, races, and national origins. 

CAIR-LA is Southern California’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice and empower American Muslims.   

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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Digital Communications Manager Enjy El-Kadi, (714) 851-4851 or eelkadi@cair.com; CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Madi Morse-Hameed, mmorse-hameed@cair.com